Review: SoundblasterX H5 gaming headset

soundblasterXh5-1
Credit: Creative Labs

The SoundBlasterX H5 is remarkably light and comfortable, it delivers great stereo sound, and it’s well designed. Aside from a slightly steep price—which is dropping by $30—what’s not to love?

The Sound Blaster ‘X-series’ of headsets, which includes the Sound BlasterX H3, H5, and H7, are designed to be the ‘Pro Gaming’ headsets that deliver top performance in a streamlined package.

By all accounts, the Sound BlasterX H5 succeeds on all fronts quite well. It may not boast a wide range of complex (or unnecessary) features, but it provides top quality headset essentials in a comfortable, durable package.

Sound BlasterX H5 feature highlights and specifications

Sound Blaster claims that “Rated at 118dB/mW, the Sound BlasterX H5 is among the loudest gaming headsets of its class.”

Although I didn’t test this scientifically, I can at least confirm that the H5 is among the loudest headsets I’ve tested. The bass is strong is this one, and audio quality as a whole is excellent particularly for gaming and music. Explosions are extra explody. Music is extra thumpy.

Sound BlasterX H5 features and specifications

soundblasterXh5-6
The SoundlbasterX H5 has innovative packaging. (I don’t know why, but I kind of like the “giant pill” hard case.)
  • 50mm Full Spectrum drivers
  • Headset Frequency Response: 20Hz ~ 20kHz
  • 3.5mm Stereo Input
  • Detachable, flexible microphone
  • Inline remote with mute, volume, and mobile answer/play/pause
  • Y-adapter for mic/stereo connector

Comfort & Design

The Sound Blaster H5 doesn’t look like it would be exceptionally comfortable, but it is. I don’t think I’d quite place in the same comfort class as the likes of the SteelSeries Siberia headsets (or similar headsets based on suspension headband designs), but it’s damn close, and it provides (slightly) more noise cancellation.

In addition, the H5’s aluminum construction is much sturdier than a typical suspension headband design, so it would likely survive the rigors of travel better.

Performance

soundblasterXh5-4
Credit: Creative Labs

Audio quality and comfort both earn high marks for the H5—and there’s not a lot more to talk about. The H5 doesn’t require any drivers or software, although you can download and install (for the price of an email address to get an unlock key) a ‘lite’ version of the BlasterX Acoustic Engine.

The BlasterX Acoustic Engine simply provides a number of gaming-oriented sound presets based on game type (driving, FPS, etc.). However, it does little else. (The higher end Sound BlasterX H7 model includes a more robust version of the BlasterX Acoustic Engine, which includes voice FX and virtual surround sound.)

soundblasterXh5-5
Credit: Creative Labs

The inline remote is typical for an inline remote, consisting of nothing more than a volume roller, a microphone mute switch, and a single button for answering calls or playing/pausing music via mobile devices. Some LED lighting on the remote would have been appreciated.

The detachable, flexible microphone performed well for Skype calls and games, and seems to do a good job of reducing some of the extra noise for the folks listening to you (provided mostly by my idiot dogs, who run downstairs and promptly explode into raving barkers when the UPS guy shows up).

Overall: 9/10 – Highly Recommended

The Sound BlasterX H5 delivers excellent audio, durability, and comfort in cross-platform compatible (PC/console/mobile) albeit no-frills package. Granted, the H5 is a bit more expensive than many headsets with similar feature sets, although Creative Labs is softening the price a bit. A representative from Creative Labs notified me (literally yesterday, or 3/3/2016) that the Sound BlasterX H5 will be getting a price drop from $129 to $99.

Granted, $99 is still arguably a bit steep and you can get plenty of perfectly serviceable headsets in the $50 range that match the H5’s no-frills feature set.

Regardless, I still think the H5 is a strong recommendation if you’re willing to step up to its price point. Many headsets in the $50 price range (in my experience) don’t typically offer audio quality, build quality, or comfort on par with the Sound BlasterX H5.

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